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|Kevin Krock, editor|
The Movie...My experience with the Rugrats is pretty limited. My son is only two and a half and too young to watch the TV show. Beyond catching a couple of quick clips as Iíve been scanning the TV channels, Iíve never sat down and watched an episode of the Rugrats on Nickelodeon. However, from that small exposure, Iíve never been wowed by the animation style, and the kid characters generally seemed to be a bit annoying. But, because Rugrats in Paris: The Movie had a pretty big response at the box office last year, I thought that Iíd give their latest movie romp a chance and check it out on DVD.
In this installment, the Pickles family and friends, including Tommy, Chuckie, Angelica, Phil, Lil, and Dil, head to EuroReptarland in Paris, France to repair the Reptar audioanimatronic figure built by Mr. Stu Pickles. (Ah, yes... the Paris theme park parallels between Disney and EuroReptarland are pretty strong.) Along the way, the Rugrats are constantly getting into trouble in many different, gross, soggy, sticky, destructive ways while their parents seem to be too distracted to notice. The only plot point that adds any heart or emotional draw to the movie has to do with Chuckieís ongoing quest for a replacement mom.
In Paris, the sinister manager of EuroReptarland, Coco LaBouche (voiced by Susan Sarandon), pursues Chuckieís dad, Chas, in order to move up the corporate ladder. At the same time, the seeds of true love are being sown between Chas and Cocoís gentle and kind assistant. Meanwhile, Stu gets the Reptar repaired just in time for the Rugrats to terrorize the entire city of Paris with it.
Itís not a gripping (or terribly interesting) movie plot, but the movie is really targeted at kids. There are a couple of humorous moments for the adults, mostly in the form of homages to more adult movies, like The Godfather, but theyíre probably completely lost on the kids. Unfortunately, the few highlights and the backdrop of Paris donít make up for the generally loud and obnoxious antics of the Rugrats. Iím sure that there are some people that think this is a hilarious movie, but for my family and me, the Rugrats leave a bit to be desired.
While I found the movie lacking, the disc actually has some good features. There is a nice 17-minute documentary on the making of the movie, and it includes interviews with the voice talent, a focus on the computer animation, as well as developmental animation, storyboards and artwork. The disc also includes the theatrical trailer, two very short promotional spots, a sound effects showcase (nothing more than one scene with isolated sound audio), two alternate endings, and the "Who Let the Dogs Out" music video.
In addition, there are two games for those that have access to a DVD-ROM drive. Itís fairly typical stuff for a DVD these days, but it helps to make the disc worth the price difference from the VHS version.
The Video, Audio and Interface...
As a modern animated feature, this movie has the advantage of a great transfer to DVD. Even though I donít particularly enjoy the Rugratís animation style, the bright colors and sharply defined character lines look particularly good throughout the movie. The anamorphic widescreen (enhanced for widescreen TVs) should make this film look really good on the kind of high-end home theater system that the kids arenít supposed to touch.
Similarly, the audio features are better than I had expected. The English Dolby Digital 5.1 surround soundtrack is peppered with surround activity and audio movement. The disc also has an English Dolby Digital 2.0 (stereo) soundtrack, but either way, theyíll both work quite well regardless of your audio system.
The interface is slightly animated on the main menu, but all of the other menus are static with an audio track. They arenít very impressive, but they are simple and clearly arranged, thus making them easy for most family members to use.
The Final Evaluation...
Looking strictly at the disc, Paramount has put together a pretty decent DVD, and if you and / or your kids are big Rugrats fans, then by all means pick this up. However, if you tend to be annoyed by what feels like an endless stream of butt, slime and bodily function jokes / comments interspersed between loud, destructive kids for 78 minutes, then you may want to pass or opt for a rental on this one.
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